Page last updated at 12:19 GMT, Friday, 21 April 2006 13:19 UK

Murky past of murdered prison officer

By Chris Summers
BBC News

A nightclub bouncer has been jailed for murdering a suspended prison officer, but the reason for the killing remains unclear.

Aaron Chapman was not a great advertisement for the Prison Service.

Aaron Chapman
There were rumours that he brought drugs and contraband into the prison
David Williams QC

A fitness fanatic, he injected anabolic steroids to bulk up his body and also dealt in cocaine, the Old Bailey heard during his killer's trial.

David Williams, QC, prosecuting, said the 23-year-old had a "murky background" and his colleagues at High Down prison in Surrey thought he was rather too close to some of the inmates.

He said: "Early in his prison service rumours spread about him. He was considered far too close to inmates, especially some of the high-profile ones. He had an affair with the girlfriend of a serving prisoner.

"There were rumours that he brought drugs and contraband into the prison, and he certainly associated with inmates after they left the prison."

Mr Chapman, six feet tall and 16 stone, was "moonlighting" as a doorman at various pubs and clubs in nearby Sutton.

In July 2002 he was seen working as a bouncer by the prison's deputy governor, Stephen Rook, and was subsequently suspended.

An internal investigation was carried out and Mr Chapman had been awaiting a disciplinary hearing when he died five months later.

Mark Dorling
Mark Dorling told his girlfriend he had stabbed a man who later died

The exact reason for his murder may never be known but the answer appeared to lie in Mr Chapman's love life rather than in any criminality.

The Old Bailey trial heard Mr Chapman was a notorious womaniser who would often be seeing several women at the same time.

Mr Williams said: "He had a capacity for deceit with women but his two-timing caught him out on a number of occasions.

"He always promised to mend his ways but he never did."

At the time of his death he was seeing at least two women, and the trial heard that his womanising may have been the reason he was targeted.

'Punishment hit'

The jury was told that those targeting Mr Chapman gave the contract for the job was given to Mark Dorling, 37, a nightclub bouncer from Crystal Palace, south London.

Dorling, known to colleagues as Robocop, went to Mr Chapman's home in Sutton on 10 December 2002 with orders for a "punishment hit", stopping short of killing him.

But Mr Williams said Mr Chapman probably fought back and things got out of hand, ending with his receiving 16 stab wounds, one of which proved fatal.

Dorling, who was also a former prison officer, was convicted of murder at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

Another man, James Pearson, 38, from Kingswood, Surrey, was acquitted of murder but convicted of conspiracy to wound with intent to cause grievous bodily harm

A third man, John Gordon, 34, from Croydon, was acquitted of all charges.

Gordon was also stabbed in the thigh - apparently by accident by Dorling - and also needed treatment at Mayday Hospital in Croydon. But police were not alerted and did not realise he was connected to the incident in Sutton earlier that night.


Detectives initially made few inroads but Dorling's downfall was his garrulousness.

In 2003, while on holiday in Greece, he told his girlfriend, Surita Williams, he had stabbed someone who had died and was afraid his DNA had been left at the scene.

In April 2004 Dorling was jailed for an unconnected incident and Miss Williams began receiving intimidating visits from Pearson in which she was given money and urged to keep quiet about Mr Chapman's death.

On one occasion Pearson told Miss Williams that Dorling had been "acting like a psychopath" and had stabbed Mr Chapman repeatedly.

When she visited him in prison Dorling said they were only supposed to give Mr Chapman "a few slaps" but it got out of hand.

Miss Williams eventually went to the police and gave evidence against her former boyfriend and his co-defendants.

Her account was backed up by David Duff, a former solicitor, and told how an injured Dorling came to his flat on the night of the murder.

Four years after Mr Chapman's death Dorling was sentenced to life on Friday.

But the police are still hoping to catch up with those who pulled the strings.

Prison officer stabbed to death
23 Feb 06 |  London

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